Back in May, I interviewed the hilarious and talented singer-songwriter Ryley Walker about his very good recent album, Deafman Glance. But one of the most memorable parts of the conversation was a tangent about Christian rock, which had been a part of both of our lives as teenagers growing up in the midwest.
Ryley mentioned an album I hadn’t thought about in years but had heard a lot in high school, DC Talk’s 1995 double-platinum smash Jesus Freak. Here’s what he had to say:
I wonder if people will be able to look back on DC Talk’s Jesus Freak with some sort of new way of listening to it, or talking about it. Because that record is as big as any of the records in the ’90s for a lot of people. That was a form of rebellion for some kids. I listened to it recently and there’s a lot of really good songs on there. They were trying to be a carbon copy of all the rock they heard on the radio, and repackage and repurpose it for Christian kids.
Clearly, this was a topic worth exploring in greater detail, so I called Ryley up and did a deep dive into an album that doesn’t get mentioned much in official histories of ’90s alt-rock, even though it was a touchstone for millions of semi-rebellious, church-going kids.